Roy Exum: About Winning At All Costs

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

On a cold winter’s day when I pause to consider our landscape, it is staggering to me that our nation’s top institutions of higher learning have – thus far – just divvied out over $50 million to football coaches whose contracts have been broken. In a world where we had hoped a man’s word was his bond and where a handshake once guaranteed an agreement, I fear we have gone terribly off-course in teaching values and decency to our next generations. Forget your promise, just write a check.

Nowhere is the stench of “win at all costs”  worse this day than at Western Kentucky University where on Monday, in the most brazen hire in recent history, Robert P. Petrino escaped the public’s exile by being named as the new football coach of the Hilltoppers. Petrino, the most notorious scalawag in the game’s history, has enough tainted baggage to fill a storage warehouse but WKU officials, citing the United States as a land of the second chance, tossed integrity and institution values to the wind because “Bobby P.” has proven one thing above all else -- he can indeed win on Saturday afternoons.

The national outcry over Petrino’s hiring yesterday was predictable. Here’s a guy who has a long history over cover-ups and lying. Back when Tommy Tuberville was struggling at Auburn, Petrino had clandestine talks with his superiors. At Louisville he signed a contract extension less than a week before he shamelessly bolted to the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

When the Arkansas job came open, he sulked away in the dead of the night, leaving a four-sentence laminated letter for his shocked (and livid) players to read in his mid-season wake. He is still considered the biggest coward in NFL history, this acerbated by the fact the Falcons owner was misled by blatant mistruths from Bobby P. and blindly did two national interviews based on the deception.

And while Petrino won 75 while losing 26 in all his previous years in college, a tawdry affair with comely female he hired on his staff – and a slew of more lies and misconception – caused him to not only be fired by an enraged Arkansas in April, but painted him as an evil, wicked misfit who was suddenly far more famous for his Harley-Davidson follies than his acumen in the passing game.

Now, in less than an eight months after whatever really happened that Sunday afternoon on Hwy. 16 outside of Fayetteville, a contrite yet somewhat smug Petrino has just signed an $850,000 contract at Western that has more loopholes and tangled knots than your child’s fishing reel. The consensus is he’ll hardly stay in Bowling Green for long, winning quickly and taking the first big-boy offer even faster.

Ironically, Petrino had longed to return to the SEC and two of the schools he tried hard to entice – Kentucky and Tennessee – are the Hilltoppers’ first two opponents next fall. At Monday’s announcement there was a huge crowd at the Stadium Club, which prompted new athletic director Todd Stewart to quip it was the largest crowd he’d seen in the room all season.

Western Kentucky has a good football team by Sunbelt Conference standards, this year’s team set to play in the Little Caesar’s Bowl against Central Michigan the day after Christmas. Willie Taggart, who guided Western to a 7-5 mark in the regular season, was lured away last week by South Florida. Two of Petrino’s children attend the University of Louisville so, for Bobby and his reconciled wife the offer to move away from Arkansas was a Godsend.

The bigger prize is that the Western job will give Petrino the time and the leverage to further repair his reputation. From the response at Western, it appears he is relishing such a chance and WKU, hoping time and wins will ease the “win at all costs” mentality, will reap wide benefits from a heightened media, a microwave-quick fan base and an intrigued (to say the least) sports world.

The Bible plainly reads, “Judge not lest ye be judged”  but the overwhelming consensus by the nation’s media yesterday was that atonement “cannot be rushed.” Public perception aside, the question of “If his wife forgives him, who are we to say?”  is a heady one. Then again, Petrino’s callous history is as sordid as any individual in our society and now he’ll be more watched and studied than any high school biology project.

That said, while the dismay and scorn is suddenly heaped on Western Kentucky, explain how great universities like Tennessee and Auburn and Purdue deftly write a check for all to see rather than fulfill a promise once thought to be valid. Compromising integrity and values should clearly be part of what we are teaching our young and, with sports now the front porch of storied institutions all across America, $50 million in less than a month -- just to win -- is quite telling about all of us.

royexum@aol.com



Appreciation Given And More Transparency Needed

On behalf of the some 900 retirees from the city of Chattanooga, I would like to publicly thank the members of the Chattanooga City Council for reversing their decision about the retirees insurance provider. We would also like to thank the staff that worked diligently to make sure that we could continue with our current coverage.  We would also like to plead with the council ... (click for more)

Alabama Worked Overtime To Right The Ship

What a majority of the good citizens of Alabama taught the rest of our country last night is that if one waits long enough and suffers long enough being ridiculed, stepped on, abused, ignored, and hurt, the day of reckoning will come.  How that happens has become akin to what today is known as the political process.  I am an experienced FDR Democrat but a staunch supporter ... (click for more)

Man Barges Into Woman's Home In MLK Neighborhood; Tries To Rape Her; Photos Of Suspect Released; Thomas Carr, 28, Is Arrested

Chattanooga Police said a man barged into a woman's home in the MLK Neighborhood around noon on Tuesday and tried to rape the woman.   Thomas Lee Carr, 28, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. Carr is charged with one count of attempted rape. Police said, "The victim was followed by the suspect into her residence where the victim was then ... (click for more)

Moccasin Bend Resident Asks City To Move Police Firing Range So He Can Open Bed And Breakfast Inn

A Moccasin Bend resident is asking the city to move a police firing range from off the historic Bend so he can open a bed and breakfast inn. Steve Holmes also said the move needs to take place because the new Moccasin Bend National Park is set to begin implementing its management plan early next year. He said the park should bring 250,000 visitors to Chattanooga each year with ... (click for more)

Hayes Surpasses 1,000 Points As Lady Canes Beat Walker Valley 54-43

East Hamilton sophomore Madison Hayes scored 17 points in a 54-43 victory at Walker County in Cleveland on Tuesday night and pushed her career scoring past the 1,000-point mark in the process. Hayes scored a team-high 19 points Friday in a 52-40 victory over Notre Dame in the East-West Classic, giving her 996 points in her career, including eighth-grade and freshman seasons ... (click for more)

McMinn County Slaps Soddy-Daisy With Two 5-3A Losses

McMinn County roared into Soddy-Daisy on Tuesday night and blasted the Trojans and Lady Trojans lop-sided victories in District 5-3A high school basketball action. The Cherokees (3-5, 3-0) blitzed the Trojans (3-5, 1-2) early to build a 26-14 halftime lead, built a 20-point lead and cruised to an impressive 58-30 victory. The earlier game was even more one-sided as the ... (click for more)